Yes, I do have a real job.

not my definition of freedom

Someone wrote me a while back and said that I or Rob needed to get a full-time job. I guess they didn’t recognize doing music as a full-time job. I’d like them to shadow me for just a week and see just how full time this job is. On some level I get where they’re coming from. I chose to stop running the corporate rat race and do my own thing. That choice has pros and cons. Sometimes I wake up and find out that a gig has been cancelled and that money will not be rolling in like I thought it would. Some mornings I wake up with a nasty sinus infection and can’t do the gig I had committed to doing and that money won’t come rolling in. When I don’t show up for work, whether it’s my fault or someone else’s, I don’t get paid. There’s no paid vacation or paid sick leave. There aren’t any employment benefits and there are no assurances in this business. If you’re not careful, you can be rolling in dough one day and can’t rub two quarters together the next. That’s the incentive to getting a ‘real’ job. There’s more stability.

But how real is it?

The reality of it is that no one in this world has any assurances but death. If you work a corporate job, you too can be laid off at a moment’s notice. You’re not immune to having  a major accident that can put you out of work and into a mountain load of medical debt. You can be miserable and stressed out for every single day you show up for your ‘real’ job and shave years off of your life as a result. You can give away your time to this job that will have no problems replacing you if the time should come. Spending over half of your waking hours day after day punching in a time clock and making someone else millions while you settle for thousands? Ultimately, what you’re doing is selling your lifetime for money. Can you see that? Can you see that this is your reality? If you can see that and that’s the choice you make, surely you can understand why I make the choice I make.

No disrespect, but I’d rather make a different reality for myself. The choices you make are yours and I respect that. But you must also respect my choices and not try to denigrate my decisions. I want a reality where I show up for work doing something that I want to do; that I’m actually passionate about. I want to have the flexibility to travel and enjoy my life on my own terms. I make a reality where I make my own money and decide how I will spend my time. I don’t want to have to ask Mr. So and So for time off. I don’t want to have to plan my vacations around dates I’m permitted to go. I love the opportunity to see movie matinees in the middle of the week while the rest of the world is out working. I love taking a few hours during the day to spend time in my garden. There are so many things I’ve done and places I’ve gone where I said to myself, ‘Man, I wouldn’t be able to do this if I had a corporate job!’ That’s my incentive to breaking the corporate American dream idea. I get to live my own.

20160808_194730

Here I am waving from the upstairs loft while we were still in the building phase.

Are there drawbacks to being an artist or yoga instructor or writer or whatever other dream you want to live besides doing the corporate thing? Yes. There are tough choices to be made. The main concession I’ve made to live my own dream is building a tiny house and reducing my financial burden so that I can live the life I want to live. To be honest, I’ve been living in a tiny house long enough that I don’t even notice the difference. It’s home to me. When people ask me what it’s like living in a tiny house, I don’t even have an answer. It’s like living in any other house. There’s really no difference to me. I absolutely love the freedom it allows.  I can’t imagine doing anything else right now except for what I’m doing. I’m truly grateful to be able to work doing something I love and get paid to do it. I wish I would have figured this out a long time ago. There’s a place in the world for artists. To all the folks telling people they need to get a ‘real’ job, can you imagine what the world would be like if there were no artists, zumba instructors, actors, life coaches, preachers, missionaries, musicians, crafters, and so on? Imagine if all of these people abandoned their passions so that they can get a ‘real’ job. What would the world be like. The art that you escape to in order to get a little bit of freedom from your ‘real’ job would no longer exist.

So when you tell me to get a ‘real’ job, in my mind, you’re actually telling me to abandon my passion and sell my time for money. And my answer to that is…

A ‘real’ job is not my definition of freedom.

Watch this…

This video couldn’t have said it any better.

work

 

Advertisements

Sometimes I Feel Like a Clown

pexels-photo-792766

I played at a venue recently where I felt like a clown. The kind of clown that performs his routine perfectly but none of the kids actually are paying attention to him and the adults looking at him feel sorry for him.

That’s exactly how I felt. There were a lot of people at this venue but everyone was laughing and talking amongst themselves and they were extremely loud. Their loudness was like a beast sitting in the middle of the room eating my music for dinner. Instead of my music reaching the people, it went into the belly of this noise beast. I wished I could make it easier on everyone and go hide under my rock. But I knew I couldn’t do that because I committed to the venue that I would be there for a certain period of time and the night had just begun. I would go as far as to wager that if I wasn’t there entertaining, the people wouldn’t even notice.

Thankfully, there was this one table of people in the very front who hung to every melody that came out of my mouth. They would turn around every once in a while and glance toward the loud tables behind them. I wondered to myself what they might be thinking. Did they feel as out of place as I did? Were they annoyed by the loud chattering? Could they even hear me singing? Did they feel sorry for me?

I found myself staring back at them as we connected amid the unfriendly ambience. Could they somehow sense the feelings of rejection and loneliness that I felt. I shuttered at that thought and tried not to look at them as much. I had made up in my mind that looking at them too much would somehow make them responsible for the other people ignoring me. So I also looked out into the crowd at some imaginary people. There were two groups. One was a family. A mother and a father with three young children. The other group was two young couples on a double date. These pretend people applauded me at the end of every song. They were singing along and the kids were dancing to the music. I smiled at them and they smiled back. They were there the entire time and they were by best friends for the night. They made me laugh, partly at myself for having to imagine them into existence in the first place. They consoled me and made me feel appreciated and wanted in spite of what was going on in the real world around me.

There are a lot of circumstances where I have to temporarily disconnect from reality in order to make my way through it. One time I took an adventure tour through a cave in Belize. It was dark and cold and we were walking through water, clinging to walls, climbing boulders, and crawling through tiny spaces. This cave was preserved as much as possible and not for the faint at heart. As I traversed my way through this cave, we had gotten to a point where we had to walk along a tiny slippery ledge so as to not fall off into the river. As I held on to the wall with both hands making sure my feet landed on the ledge with each step I saw a crab right next to my hand also on the wall. It scared the bejeezus out of me and within a millisecond I felt a force of adrenaline spark in my chest like a match. I stopped to take a quick breath and mentally blew the adrenaline match out by pretending the spider was simply a prop. I placed one foot in front of the other and moved on. I created an alternate reality for myself so I could get through that moment.

As a performer, things can get pretty scary and uncertain. Reality can seem impossible. Sometimes this job is not appreciated and you end up in the wrong environment. It too is not for the faint at heart.

Out of all the jobs a clown can take, why does he choose to be a clown? Is it for the money or is it for the personal connection he makes with each person who receives the little piece of life he brings? Right now I can’t see myself not doing music. Not when people are telling me that my song inspired them to follow their dreams and become an author, or that it helped them get through a very rough time in life, or that it reminded them of being home. It’s very important work. If that makes me a clown from time to time, so be it.


Looking Ahead to 2018

Wow! I’m having a hard time getting my head wrapped around 2017 being over. It seems like it was just getting started in some ways. We were sitting pretty going into the year until we found out that one of our very good monthly gigs got cancelled. It was a tough blow because it was cancelled abruptly and we were depending on that gig for a huge chunk of our monthly income.  I remember sitting in a diner after first finding out being speechless wondering how we were going to replace that income. What a way to start the year, huh?

Things eventually worked itself out and we were able to fill in the gaps. The year shaped up to be our best year yet for music overall. We did 65 shows, performed in front of 3000+ people, travelled around the eastern half of the country, and did a few radio interviews one of which was in Nashville – Music City capital of the country! I’m truly grateful that Rob and I get to do music together full time.

radio_int1

Radio Interview at WXNA Soul of the City Nashville June 2017

What I’m looking forward to the most this year is finally getting my next album, ‘Work in Progress‘ released and doing a western tour. Those are the 2 things I’ve been fantasizing about for a few years now. To get deeper, I’m also interested in being more present with my true fans. I’ll be looking more critically at the way I do music and how it relates to my fans. I’m realizing more and more that people like music because of the feeling it brings them. Music is more than just a series of beats, and rhymes. It stirs up emotions, heals, brings about memories, and helps people escape. As an artist I want to explore how I can facilitate that in how I relate to my fans and listeners through live performances, online communities, and one on one interactions. This means I’ll be getting deeper in my newsletters, being more personable, being intentional, and working to create more memorable experiences at live shows.

If you want to be a part of that, and I really hope you do, join me on my “What’s Going On” series here. I promise I won’t disappoint.

.facebook_1498569176266.jpg

One of my favorite shows we did in 2017 with Kelsey, our violinist!

 

I’m wishing you much success and health for 2018!

 


Another Love Song

I found these lyrics in my notes today. Apparently it’s a song I wrote years ago. I don’t even remember writing this. I don’t think I’m going to do anything with it. I almost threw it away but the lyrics are so piercing that I just couldn’t.  So here it is.

Say a little prayer for me tonight
I don’t know if I even have a fight
I’ve tried so many times to make it right
I’m sending my love to you with all of my might

You take me, away from here
To a place where my mind is clear
You’re killing me softly with your words
I’m so lost around you
I don’t know if you heard

Someday it’s gonna be over and
all our dreams will come true
I’ve been loving you for so long
when are you ever going to notice

Suddenly I want to dream of you
You’ve arrested me with your truth
I don’t want to take it slow
When all my heart says go


Tiny House : A Year Later

We’ve been through four seasons in the Tiny House already and it’s so hard to believe. First of all because, well it only felt like one or two seasons since we’re living in hot, humid Texas. Secondly, because the year went by so quickly we hardly knew what was happening. We have thoroughly enjoyed it. We made a few modifications after living in it for a while such as removing the medicine cabinet and opting for a flat mirror and exposed shelving in the bathroom to give us more space to work with. We also added some book shelves here and there to hold and showcase all of our books.

We’ve hosted dinner parties, had guests over and we held a few band practices and even moved the house around the corner.

20170422_162528

One of the questions we get asked a lot is ‘What’s it like living in a tiny house?’ It catches me off guard at times because I’m so used to it that I forget that it’s quite different from traditional housing. The truth is, it’s not any different from living in a four bedroom house. It’s home and we feel at home in it!

After all, we did live in this pop up camper for four months during the build, so moving into the Tiny was like heaven.

00k0k_7QWYfFaDms4_600x450

Do we have any regrets? My only regret is not doing it sooner. This was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. Will we live in it forever? Who really knows what the future will bring? Can anyone really answer that question? Life is handled one day at a time. For the past year, we have been really enjoying the house and Houston!

For example, we’ve really enjoyed getting to know the music scene in Houston thus far. We’re hoping to get out to see even more shows and network with our fellow musicians as time goes on. We went from having no shows to a full calendar of dates in the Houston area in the span of a year. Not bad for being new to town. Here’s a picture of a recent show we did at a coffee shop in Galveston. We had a full house outside on the patio.

20793905_10154570772761441_448360291_o

Moving forward I’d like to host more of my own shows too! We did one this year and it was a huge success. I called it a ‘Sundays Unplugged’ show. We had it on a Sunday. I rented out a venue and invited people to attend. We had a really good showing.  I invited a violinist to join us and we rocked the house.

Sun_UnpluggedJun_25

If you know of any venues that I might be a good fit or if you have an intimate spot that I can host a Sundays Unplugged show, please get in touch. I’d love to hear from you.

Talk to you later!

P.S. If you’re not on my VIP list, you’re missing out. I send cool fan letters, gifts, and exclusive videos and audios to my VIP supporters. Sign up here. It’s free!


Back From Tour

We recently did a little summer tour to Nashville, Lexington, Fayetteville, and a few other places. If I had to describe it in one word, I would say exhilarating! We had a lot of fun, met a lot of people, caught up with friends and family, did 8 wonderful shows in a row, and really enjoyed being back on the road.

Our first show was an in-studio radio interview, which I did solo. Rob sat on the couch and relaxed while I performed a few songs in between fun chats with the host. Erica was a really gracious host. I was incredibly nervous. I’ve done radio interviews before, but this was a big deal for me because it was in Music City Nashville first of all and secondly my other radio interviews were for online stations. I answered questions while in bed. This was an actual in-studio performance so I had to bring my full game!

Here’s the audio from my interview. But, if you’re in Nashville and want to hear local music, check out Erica’s show. It’s called Soul of the City WXNA 101.5. It runs on Thursdays from 4-6. Tune in on the radio or live streaming here.

Our next stop was at a cute winery tucked away in the hills of Kentucky! They have two locations and we were fortunate enough to perform at both. Talon Winery has some of the best wines out of Kentucky. Kentucky is known for sweet wine, and they have this Sugar Lips line that is to die for.

Special thanks to our friends in Louisville for letting us stay for a few days while in the area. We had an absolute blast!  After that we headed back to Nashville for a couple shows there. We did a house concert and we set up in the back yard. I love house concerts because I get to engage more with my audience and we really get to know each other. I make up songs on the spot where I include my audience and it makes for a really memorable experience for everyone. This house concert was no different. Everyone had a great time including me and Rob. Our hostess, Anndra, was amazing!

IMG_8528 copy

If you’re interested in hosting a house show or thinking about doing so, take a look at my special house concert info page here. You’ll be glad you did!

Our other show in Nashville was a semi-private show for an apartment community in the Franklin area. It was surreal because it was the very community we lived in when we were in Nashville. It was great going back to our old stomping grounds and seeing friends along the way.  Speaking of which we stayed with some friends while we were there and we picked up a new band member!

FullSizeRender

This little guy is CJ. He was all about the music, but when it came time to take the picture he became a mannequin! So funny. We had the hardest time getting him to pose. Stage fright will get you!

Our next stop was downtown Fayetteville, AR. We performed at JJ’s Grill. They have a great stage and it is a very happening spot. Lots of people were grooving to the music. We also did a show at Brick Street Brews in downtown Rogers, AR! Now this place is the bomb. It felt like I was in an episode of Cheers. It was a community atmosphere. It felt like everyone knew each other and there’s a beer garden in the back. What more can one ask for?

5514091

Unless you’re from Northwest Arkansas, you may not have heard of Rogers, AR. But they have a Copeland’s. Being a native of New Orleans, that was some impressive news! We stayed with family in Eureka Springs while there, and before our show we all went for dinner at Copeland’s. It was amazing. It’s cajun southern food with a gourmet flare. It’s delicious and brought to you by the makers of Popeye’s. Mmm good. That’s what I love about touring! You get to partake in local dining, catch up with friends, and meet lots of new people along the way — all while sharing music.

Our last stop was a quaint little coffee shop in Tyler, TX, The Foundry. It’s a great venue and they have a fire sound system! We stayed with my cousin Chandra! You may have seen her on our TV episode of Tiny House Hunters! She came to Houston to take part in our TV experience and I’m so happy she did! We recently realized that we live in the same state so we’ve been seeing a lot more of each other lately!

chandra

Shout out to my Cousin Chandra!

The tour was awesome! It was a short one, but boy did we pack a lot in the little time we had. Thanks to all our hosts! We couldn’t have done this without you. 🙂

Can’t wait for the next one.


Fire

I don’t know how many songs there needs to be about fire, but I just wrote the next one! It’s a poppy, bouncy, bluesy up paced joint about finding your voice.

It certainly was a shocker,
when I said what I would do.
It was such a surprise for you and me too.
With my head in my hands,
the words flew out my mouth….

I’ve been tolerating, justifying situations that I hate
just because I was broken.
And I wanted you to know that I’m on

Fire, in my bones and my feet.
I’m jumping higher, from the depths of the deep.
When you look from the left to the right,
I’m just smoking and it’s burning and it’s turning me hot like

Fire.
Fire.

That was the first day
I turned my life around.
I must have gotten out of bed with my feet off the ground.
I went from victim to victor
in two seconds flat…

I’m not tolerating, justifying situations that I hate.
I refuse to be your victim.
And I wanted you to know that I’m on

Fire, in my bones and my feet.
I’m jumping higher, from the depths of the deep.
When you look from the left to the right,
I’m just smoking and it’s burning and it’s turning me hot like

Fire.
Fire.

I’ve been going through a process of emotional, spiritual, mental, and psychological healing for about 4 years at the time of this writing. I erroneously learned that others could determine my validity, importance, and presence in this world. I thought others could make me invisible through their actions and the way they treated me. My Dad gave me the silent treatment off and on all my life. Sometimes it would last for a few days, other times it would last for weeks and months. He would get upset about something and just not talk to me or acknowledge me. He treated me like I didn’t exist. He never would explain what he was upset about, why he was upset, and never once gave me a chance to address what had upset him so much.  Make no mistake silent treatment is emotional abuse. It is a form of emotional violence that can cause serious negative effects to the victim.  As a result of that treatment, I was not able to develop a strong, healthy sense of self-worth and self-confidence. It made me feel like I was worthless. I had suicidal thoughts as a teenager. I seriously contemplated running away. I battled with feeling depressed and alone more times than I can count.

After a final run-in with my Dad’s silent treatment tactics, I decided I didn’t want to be a part of that cycle anymore. I had just battled an explosive migraine attack and I was committed to pursuing health holistically as part of an overall lifestyle including being healthy emotionally. I could no longer afford to have my sense of self-worth and value be constantly challenged. So I said I wasn’t doing it anymore. I’m no longer tolerating that behavior. It was a fiery move that had its own set of consequences, but I was willing if it meant not being emotionally abused any longer. I finally found my voice. There’s no justification for abuse and I am not here for it.

If you resonate with what I’m saying and have gone through similar situations of your own whether it be a parent, family member, significant other, co-worker/boss, or even a friend know that you are worth every iota of skin you’re in. You are here for a reason.

If you need help finding yourself/voice, make no mistake, it’s a long road to recovery. But it’s so worth it!

These resources helped me tremendously…

Progress through Process – YouTube Channel for helping you deal with a Narcissist
Luke 17:3 Ministries (For Adult Daughters of childhood abuse |Christian)
Boundaries – a book about establishing healthy, safe boundaries in every relationship.